Eight-times world champion Tony Cairoli got the upper hand of arch rival Jeffrey Herlings once again at Sunday’s MXGP at Agueda in scorching Portugal, the Italian’s first time he’s won at the track on a KTM.
It’s the second time in two weeks Cairoli went head-to-head with Herlings, and the second time he came out on top. Last week in the sand of Italy, Cairoli won both motos from Herlings.
But this time Herlings won the first moto from Cairoli but the order was reversed second time out, so Cairoli got the overall. He also extended his series lead to 91 points in front of Clement Desalle.
Cairoli said: “I’m very happy. I know my condition is good so I can push but I lost the rhythm in the first ten minutes. Jeffrey was faster in one part of the track and passed me. In moto two I controlled the race and was riding better than the first moto. We are thinking about the championship now.”
In the first moto, Cairoli led while Herlings was soon on his tail after passing fast-starting Armenas Jasikonis. The Dutchman chased his rival and made his move, pulling away a few seconds. Cairoli rallied back on the last couple of laps but finishes just over a second behind.
In moto two, 31-year-old Cairoli quickly deposed holeshot man Tim Gajser and pulled away an instant lead from Max Nagl, Jasikonis and Herlings. Herlings fought his way to second place but could not get close enough to Cairoli as the took the victory again.
Herlings, who collapsed with heatstroke last week after crossing the line at the Italian GP, even said he hadn’t been certain he could ride at Agueda as he’d been so badly affected.
He said: “I felt a bit dizzy from last week’s heatstroke, which is not good for your head or heart. To go home with 47 points is good but disappointing, but I came away healthy and with another podium. I can’t wait for the next round. I need to be patient!”
Jasikonis, winner of the qualifying race, took a strong third in the opener then hounded Max Nagl for third place second time out. The Suzuki man got by with a couple of laps remaining to take his first ever MXGP podium finish.
Jasikonis said: “It’s amazing. I’m so happy and everything went so well.”
Former world champ Romain Febvre took fourth overall after clashing several times in the opener with Desalle. Kawasaki man Desalle went down in the first corner of moto two and could only take eighth overall, while fellow title hopeful Gautier Paulin was 12th overall and Max Anstie, who was on the podium last week, was ninth overall. Cairoli leads the series with 478 points, 91 in front of Desalle who is just four in front of Paulin. Herlings is now only one point behind Paulin.
In the MX2 class, Suzuki’s Jeremy Seewer took the overall win from red plate holder Pauls Jonass and American Thomas Covington. All three were in a class of their own all day. Jonass won the opener after passing Covington. The Husky man lost second place on the last lap when hard-charging Seewer made the decisive move. Second time out Jonas led but Seewer barged past and the Latvian had no answer for him, taking second with Covington third again. So Jonass and Seewer tied on 47 points, with the Swiss ace getting the nod but clawing back any of his 38-point deficit to Jonass in the title race.
Covington said: “Wanted that win but didn’t have quite enough in the tank today! It was still awesome to see that American flag up on the podium again.”